10YEARS Festival Performances

A festival with new works — celebrating 10 years of Experimental Media and Performing Arts

By EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

10YEARS poster (2018)EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Production still, Moved by the Motion in Studio 1. (2018) by Photo by Mick BelloEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Over the course of three days, and across EMPAC’s four main venues and public spaces, the 10YEARS celebration marked a decade since the building's opening in 2008 by presenting a diverse offering of cross-disciplinary performances spanning music, dance, theater, film, and many experiential spaces in between. Five of these performances were newly commissioned by EMPAC, developed over a year through the artist-in-residence program, and made their world premiere that weekend.

10YEARS featured works by:
Formosa Quartet
Trajal Harrell
Maria Hassabi
Moved by the Motion (Wu Tsang and boychild with Patrick Belaga, 
Josh Johnson, and Asma Maroof)
Olga Neuwirth and International Contemporary Ensemble
Isabelle Pauwels
Yara Travieso

In addition to the lineup of performances and installations, events included a research demonstration by the Cognitive and Immersive Systems Laboratory (CISL), a talk on digital archiving strategies by EMPAC Director Johannes Goebel, and an address by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson preceding an Ambisonic performance in the Concert Hall.

Celebrating 10 Years of experimental media and performing arts (2018-10-11/2018-10-13) by EMPACEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

October 11–13, 2018

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11
Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet
7:00PM, Concert Hall, Studio 1, Studio 2, Theater

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12
SlowMeDown / Maria Hassabi
12–11:30PM, Studio 2

Wave Field Synthesis / 3D Audio Installation
12–11:30PM Studio 1

If It Bleeds / Isabelle Pauwels
7:00PM, Theater

Sagittarius A. / Yara Travieso
8:00PM Concert Hall

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell
9:30PM, 7th Floor Lobby

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13
SlowMeDown / Maria Hassabi
12–11:30PM, Studio 2

Wave Field Synthesis / 3D Audio Installation
12–11:30PM, Studio 1

The Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab / Hui Su
2:00PM, Studio Beta

The Computer as Time Machine / Johannes Goebel
4:00PM, Studio Beta

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell
7:00PM, 7th Floor Lobby

Lost Highway Suite / Olga Neuwirth & International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
8:00PM, Concert Hall

Sudden Rise / Moved by the Motion
9:30PM, Theater

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell
10:30PM, 7th Floor Lobby

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet

Kicking off the 10YEARS celebration, the Formosa Quartet took the audience on a unique musical journey throughout the EMPAC building. Performing in all four venues — the Concert Hall, Theater, Studio 1, and Studio 2 — the ensemble showcased classical repertoire particularly suited to the distinct acoustic profile of each space.

Throughout the show, the audience was led from venue to venue to hear how, in performance, the room is as important as the musicians and music.

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Concert Hall 1

Starting out in the Concert Hall, the audience sits on the stage facing the back of the hall, where the quartet plays far away at the top of the balcony. This highlights a unique property of the Concert Hall, which was specifically designed to have any sound come to the audience from any place in the hall with the same quality as if they were playing on stage. The movement of the string quartet by Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, regarded as the composer who established the string quartet as genre, comes from far away in time and space.

Listen to part of the performance on the next slide. 

Violin / Jasmine Lin 
Violin / Wayne Lee 
Viola / Che-Yen Chen 
Cello / Deborah Pae

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

J. Haydn, String Quartet Op.76 No.6 (excerpt) – Formosa Quartet in EMPAC Concert Hall
00:00

Formosa Quartet – Concert Hall I

Joseph Haydn, String Quartet in E-flat major, Op.76 No.6,  2nd movement (1796/97)

Franz Joseph Haydn is said to be the “Father of string quartets.” The tradition of the string quartet is thought to have started in his hands.

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Béla Bartók, String Quartet No. 4, 5th movement (excerpt) – Formosa Quartet in EMPAC Studio 1
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Formosa Quartet – Studio 1

Béla Bartók, String Quartet No. 4, 5th movement (1927)

Studio 1 is the space with the shortest reverberation time of all the venues. The audience sits in circles close to the string quartet in the center. The proximity of musicians and audience, the acoustics of the space, and the driving intensity of the music create heat. It’s hardly imaginable that this music was composed almost 100 years ago and only five quarters of a century later than the Haydn piece. 

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Johann Sebastian Bach, Die Kunst der Fuge, Contrapunctus XIV (excerpt) – Formosa Quartet in EMPAC Studio 2
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Formosa Quartet – Studio 2

Johann Sebastian Bach, Die Kunst der Fuge, Contrapunctus XIV

Studio 2 is set up the opposite way to Studio 1; the audience sits in circles facing outwards, and each of the musicians is positioned at the center of one of the four walls. The Art of the Fugue was composed in the last decade of Bach’s life, between 1740–50. It’s an ongoing debate for which instruments it was composed, if intended for any specific instruments at all. This last fugue Bach wrote was left unfinished and, in this performance, it will end with the last bar Bach wrote. A fugue is a highly specific framework where the voices are independent and joint at the same time. Positioning the string quartet spatially around the audience spins the musical lines through the volume of the studio, so they meet in the space of each audience member.

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Shih-Hui Chen, Returning Souls (excerpt) – Formosa Quartet in EMPAC Theater
00:00

Formosa Quartet – Theater

Shih-Hui Chen, Returning Souls (2013)
 
In the Theater, the Formosa Quartet is invisible, sitting in the orchestra pit 6ft/3m below the front of the stage, enveloped by red light emanating from the pit.
 
Shih-Hui Chen is a Taiwanese composer who lives and works in the United States.

Double Quartet: Strings and Spaces / Formosa Quartet (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Lei Liang, Song Recollections (excerpt) – Formosa Quartet in EMPAC Concert Hall
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Formosa Quartet – Concert Hall II

Lei Liang, Song Recollections (2016)

For the final piece in the Concert Hall, audience and musicians are in their traditional juxtaposition, the quartet on stage and the audience in the so-called orchestra seats. Lei Liang was commissioned by Formosa Quartet to create Song Recollections

 
Lei Liang is a Chinese-born American composer.

If It Bleeds, Isabelle Pauwels (2018) by Curated by Vic BrooksEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Isabelle Pauwels, If It Bleeds

Commissioned and produced by EMPAC, If It Bleeds is a moving-image work inspired by recent events in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Historically, MMA was promoted as something very distinct from both boxing — a sport so corrupt that the best hardly ever fight the best — and from pro wrestling, which is totally scripted and driven by mic skills, costumes, and bad acting. But in seeking to expand the audience, MMA promoters increasingly court the artifice of wrestling to privilege the showman over the sportsman. 


If It Bleeds follows the fighters, commissioners, reporters, and a promoter as they battle through post-fight pressers, promotional tours, and disciplinary hearings. The narrative unfolds in a game of one-upmanship as the characters are seduced by their public image and driven by the fiction that everything happens “for a reason.” If It Bleeds uses the pageantry of sports-entertainment to explore the grotesque and sublime spectacle that is everyday survival.

Pauwels describes If It Bleeds as a “workplace pageant” whose colorful characters and garish camera-friendly sets provide a backdrop to trace the intricacies of workplace hierarchy. Her subjects revolve around intra-group dynamics and the transactional structure of work. Ranging from the world of an online dominatrix and her customers (in the case of her recent installation ,000,) to the systems of behavior and psychological dynamics involved in the televised spectacle of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the point of departure for If It Bleeds), Pauwels’ blend of performance and documentary realism explores the fraught relationship between narrative conventions and everyday social interaction. 

Pauwels approaches the process of making each new artwork from the position of editor, both in the sense of a video editor who cuts recorded footage on a timeline and the sculptor that chips away at physical material until it takes shape. Pursuing a deep engagement with the linguistic structures around any given group or community, Pauwels starts by listening: amassing notes, found footage, fragments of speech, and snippets of conversation. From these textual and visual materials, the script is assembled and adapted through the process of directing the cast. In post-production she strips the performances to their constituent parts through fast paced cuts until a play of gesture emerges that distills the vernacular dynamics of each character.

Vic Brooks, Curator

Isabelle Pauwels, If It Bleeds (excerpt 1). (2018) by Isabelle PauwelsEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Writer, Director, and Editor / Isabelle Pauwels
Line Producer / Julie Niemi
Photographer / Sam Quinones
Additional Voice Recordings / Lotas Productions, NY and THE WESTERN FRONT, Vancouver
Hair & Make Up / Genn Shaughnessy, MUAH MakeUp and Hair
Music / Harmonica by Chris London
3D Modeling / Chris Kowal
Additional Assistance / Sharon Kahanoff, Valérie Pauwels, Jean Marc Périn

Curator / Vic Brooks

Isabelle Pauwels, If It Bleeds (excerpt 2). (2018) by Isabelle PauwelsEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Brick / Alex from TextEdit, pitch shifted (Apple Inc.)
Cage Announcer / Michael Philip
H.D / Dan Eberle
Chair / Michael Way
Futon/ John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco
Sofia / Sid Harlow
Fiff Mendosa / Sean O’Neill
The Macguffin / Connor Dylan
Cowboy / Chris London
Cupcake Barbie / Christine Bermudez
Anna Armbar / Hannah D. Scott
Daisy Dogood / Joey Schaljo
Walter Cronkite / Jose Vaughn
John with an ‘H’ Jones/ Jason Russell
Celebrity Reporter/TV Host (Male) / Steven Allen Prince
Celebrity Reporter/TV Host / TV HOST (Female) / Christine Bermudez
Steffanie McMahon / Sid Harlow
All of South America / Google Translate Portuguese Voice
What's Her Face? / Google Translate Portuguese Voice
Did You Mean? / Google Translate English Voice
Sax / Hank Bull
Bone / Eric Metcalfe
Chorus / Daniel & Samantha from TextEdit (Apple Inc.)

Special Thanks to Steve, Mark, and Valérie for all the wonderful evenings watching and talking MMA. To all the staff at EMPAC, you are a joy to work with, and to all the actors for doing an art video.

Commissioned and produced by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic institute.

Supported by Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council.

Sagittarius A. / Yara Travieso (2018) by Curated by Ashley Ferro-Murray and Constanza Armes CruzEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Yara Travieso, Sagittarius A.

Sagittarius A. by Yara Travieso was a new site-specific commission for EMPAC’s Concert Hall. On first encounter, Travieso imagined the hall as the “womb” of EMPAC in form and structure. Sagittarius A.’s staging thus emerged in dialogue with the architecture, and the performance transforms the Hall into an embodiment of Travieso’s heroine. Moving images permeate the space, at times immersing the audience. Brought to life by Travieso’s touch, the Concert Hall’s curved walls and airy ambience is accentuated by billowing fabric to produce a living, breathing presence of a woman. 

Sagittarius A. is a psychological creation myth that follows two women, the timeless, mythical Sagittarius A. and the dancer Ana. The layered narrative twists and turns to expose creation stories about the universe, the galaxy, and, ultimately, the great void of a black hole’s infinite density. Corporeal form initiates each metaphor as the heroine transposes her movement onto the space, activating disparate sections of the Concert Hall with her dancing. 

Sagittarius A. continues Travieso’s work in large-scale and immersive live theatrical productions that place the heroine at the center of traditional narrative structure. In her solo performance YOUR HEART & YOUR BELLY & YOUR WHOLE INSIDES FELT EMPTY & WANTING & HOLLOW (episode 1.), Travieso explored an intimate physical relationship that she describes as “between woman and void.” In that work, Travieso danced with a 35-foot military parachute attached to her waist that billowed behind her with the power of a 45 mile-per-hour wind. More recently, Travieso produced the live film La Medea, a re-imagining of Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy as a Latin disco-pop variety show. 

In El Ciclón, the live filming of a horror movie follows a woman’s fate as she chooses between her own safety and that of a man she encounters in a swamp. 

Ashley Ferro-Murray, Curator

Yara Travieso, SAGITTARIUS A. (2018) by EMPACEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Creator and Director / Yara Travieso
Assistant Director / Liz Charky
Composer and Sound Design / Sam Crawford
Lighting Design / Seth Reiser

Sagittarius A. and Ana / Jennifer Payán
Dr. Amalia / Catherine Correa
Narrator and Director / Liz de Lise
Wolf / Jack Magai
Electric Guitar and Bass Synth / Liz de Lise
Guitar and Lap Steel / Zeb Gould
Violin / Emmet Moeller
Saxophone / Jeff Hudgins
Keyboard / Jerry Huang
Trombone / Ed Prettyman
Vibraphone / Griffin Smith
French Horn / Ethan Solomon

Special thanks to Digital Bodega and Daquan Saxton, and Jeremy Rios.

This performance features Rensselaer student musicians.

Commissioned and produced by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic institute.

Curators / Ashley Ferro-Murray and Constanza Armes Cruz

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell (2018) by Curated by Ashley Ferro-MurrayEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Trajal Harrell, In the Mood for Frankie

There are many themes in choreographer Trajal Harrell’s oeuvre: modernism and postmodernism, minimalism, vogue, the fashion runway, pedestrianism, gender, and butoh (Japanese dance theater), to name a few. Complex layers of history and references relating to each theme are crafted into every moment of Harrell’s choreography, from props and costumes to sweeping physical gestures and micro-facial expressions. In the Mood for Frankie is no exception. The work focuses on the idea of the muse, a source of inspiration. Not surprisingly, this focus might come in part from Harrell’s own muses, butoh co-founders, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, who maintained a strong relationship to their muse, Argentine-born Spanish dancer Antonia Merce.

Harrell’s other influences include modern dancer-choreographer Katherine Dunham, filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, fashion designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, singer Sade, and butoh artist Yoko Ashikawa. Among these are Harrell’s closest muses, dancers Thibault Lac and Ondrej Vidlar, who emerge, re-emerge, and emerge again throughout Harrell’s works and who perform In the Mood for Frankie live with Harrell. These figures, their work, and their connections to one another — or sometimes lack thereof—have left an indelible mark on the context and aesthetics of Harrell’s choreography. With his cross-historical web of influences, Harrell transcends time and place in favor of an imagined and constructed performance landscape that delivers a new aesthetic apparition.

While themes consistent with Harrell’s oeuvre take center stage in In the Mood for Frankie, this work also highlights a new exploration for Harrell. With artistic collaborator Stéfane Perraud, Harrell delves into the world of projection. Used here as a light source and an aesthetic backdrop, slowly moving marble patterns are projected onto the dancers and their platforms. The virtual presence of digital material feels fitting for Harrell’s work, where inspirational specters abound. Here, the virtuality of spectrality and digitality collide.

Ashley Ferro-Murray, Curator

Choreographer / Trajal Harrell
Installation Design / Trajal Harrell
Lighting Design / Stéfane Perraud
Soundtrack / Trajal Harrell
Costumes / Comme de Garçons, Anne Demeulemeester, Jean Paul Gaultier, and the performers
Company Manager / Jean-Stephan Kiss
Technical Director / Alexander Symes

Curator / Ashley Ferro-Murray

In the Mood for Frankie was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York in co-production with Singapore International Festival of the Arts.

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell (2018) by Curated by Ashley Ferro-MurrayEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

In the Mood for Frankie / Trajal Harrell (2018) by Curated by Ashley Ferro-MurrayEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab / Hui Su (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

CISL – The Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab

The Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab (CISL) is a collaboration between Rensselaer and IBM Research for the research and development of immersive cognitive systems building on the infrastructure, studios and expertise of EMPAC. The core platform of CISL is the Cognitive Immersive Room (also called “Situations Room”), an immersive, interactive, reconfigurable phys­ical environment. The future Situations Room will be able to augment group intelligence and performance by perceiving and understanding human inten­tion in group activities, participating in learning and decision-making tasks, and communicating insight and discovery to humans. The domains investigat­ed for the Situations Room include cognitive and immersive learning, corporate decision-making, cyber-enabled exploration and discovery, and intelligence analysis. In this presentation, Director Hui Su will introduce the vision of CISL, the progress made by the CISL team in a few technical areas, and talk about several technical demonstrations such as an occupant-aware cognitive environment en­abled with multimodal interactions, cognitive and immersive environments for language teaching and decision making, and immersive narrative generation. 

The Computer as Time Machine / Johannes Goebel (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Johannes Goebel, The Computer as Time Machine

Time-based arts stand at the center of this celebration. There is the time an art work takes to unfold and engage us. There is the time our senses take to perceive a work, and there is our inner time of experience. Then there is the sliced and diced time of computer processing and the time of rapidly changing technolo­gies driven by the economic system.

Over thousands of years, humans have carved into stone, painted on canvas, printed words in books, and captured images on film in order to pass informa­tion down the chain of generations. With digital data storage, we have reached the point where what is precious to individuals, families, and institutions will only last for a fraction of a generation without constant care and maintenance. 

Digital technology depends on clocks. They depend on complex technological environments, electricity, chips, air conditioning, and are doomed by changing hardware, operating systems, applications, and data formats. Even if we have electricity and computers 100 years from now, what we have stored and hoped to pass along will be lost and forgotten without continuous, meticulous invest­ment of time and money.
 
At EMPAC, we have created hundreds of events, commissions, and new works that are part of the larger cultural record. We have over 500 videos documenting these time-based productions accessible via the EMPAC Archive Chair. If EM­PAC was shuttered tomorrow, this video documentation would quickly disap­pear without the funds and the interest needed to preserve them. As a result, EMPAC is researching an affordable digital time capsule that an individual or an institution can create with a snap-shot of images, texts, sounds, and docu­ments to be accessible for the next 100 years. 


—Johannes Goebel, Director

Lost Highway Suite / Olga Neuwirth & International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Olga Neuwirth, Lost Highway Suite, performed by ICE

Lost Highway Suite by Olga Neuwirth is a composition for a large ensemble of musicians, six soloists, and live electronics, with many loudspeakers surrounding the audience. The suite is drawn from the orchestral parts of Neuwirth’s 2003 opera Lost Highway, the libretto of which was co-written by Austrian Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek and inspired by the film of the same name by David Lynch and Barry Gifford. 


The suite consists of instrumental sections from the opera that the composer has tied together into one piece. The opera and its libretto set the tone and atmosphere for this composition, but there is no direct link between the film and the suite. However, the film, opera, and suite share a common structural approach. Rather than pursuing narrative continuity and evolution, different musical tableaus and sonic spaces are established, which then mutate, and change into one another, almost like cuts between different scenes in a film. 

Six soloists (saxophone, clarinet, trombone, guitar, accordion, and keyboards) are positioned behind the ensemble and channeled to the live electronic system, the output of which is then fed to the loudspeakers. Originally, the suite was performed with a ring of loudspeakers surrounding the audience. The performance at EMPAC utilized a 64-loudspeaker dome installed in the Concert Hall, for which the electronic part of the composition needed to be reprogrammed. This technology, High-Order Ambisonics, is a refined system for the spatial projection of sound environments that goes beyond traditional stereo or surround sound that we may know from movie theaters. 

Johannes Goebel

Conductor / Timothy Weiss

Saxophone Solo / Ryan Muncy
Clarinet Solo / Campbell MacDonald
Trombone Solo / Michael Lormand
Guitar Solo / Daniel Lippel
Accordion Solo / Elodie Soulard
Keyboards Solo / Cory Smythe
Live Electronics / Gilbert Nouno

Flute / Alice Teyssier, Isabel Gleicher
Oboe / Arthur Sato
Clarinet / Joshua Rubin, Vasko Dukovski
Bassoon / Nanci Belmont
Trumpet / Sam Jones, Brandon Ridenour
Horn / David Byrd-Marrow
Trombone / David Nelson
Tuba / Andrew Madej
Percussion / Levy Lorenzo, Nathan Davis
Violin / Jennifer Curtis, Josh Modney
Viola / Wendy Richman
Cello / Michael Nicolas, Meaghan Burke
Bass / Randy Zigler

Curator / Johannes Goebel

Lost Highway Suite / Olga Neuwirth & International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) (2018) by Curated by Johannes GoebelEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Underlying the music is a series of existential questions: How do we know what is real and what is imagined? How do we differentiate between what is inside of us and what is outside? How do we get out of a situation that seems like an infinite loop with no beginning, middle, or end, when we do not see a way out? At the very beginning, the voice of a male singer comes from the loudspeakers, pronouncing the piece’s only clearly understandable words: “NO EXIT.” Then a door buzzer sounds, and the music takes its course…

This transition between situations, spaces, and environments, between inside and outside, is also reflected in the relationship between the musicians on stage and the different acoustical spaces created through the loudspeaker dome around and above the audience. In one instance, only the instruments on the stage can be heard. But in the next the instruments are coming from all around the audience, creating a common space for both the musicians and listeners. The acoustic sounds become transformed through live processing, change their character through artificial reverberation from the speaker dome, and mix with electronic sounds. Sound clouds and moving particles seem to come from beyond the architectural walls of the Concert Hall and then retract back to the instrumentalists on stage.

The original development of the live electronics (Markus Noisternig, Thomas Musil) and sound design (Olga Neuwirth, Markus Noisternig, Gerhard Nierhaus, Robert Höldrich) occurred through the Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) of the University
of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria. The re-development and programming of the live electronics was carried out by Markus Noisternig and Gilbert Nouno.

The 64-channel higher-order ambisonic sound system is a new addition to EMPAC’s audio infrastructure and has been used in the Spatial Audio Summer Workshops and Seminars in 2017 and 2018.

Sudden Rise by Moved by the Motion, 2018. (2018) by Curated by Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes CruzEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Moved by the Motion, Sudden Rise

Moved by the Motion is an interdisciplinary ensemble formed by Wu Tsang and boychild in 2013 that comprises an expanding group of artists, including Patrick Belaga, Josh Johnson, and Asma Maroof. Using iterative methodology, the process of making each new performance both extends and is informed by the last. The resulting cross-fade of ideas and actions is communally interpreted, dissolving the dominance of one discipline over another, and deliberately entangling language, movement, image, film, and music through a process of repetition and reinterpretation. In this way, the artists build a shared language that is developed through communal work while remaining deeply informed by their own disciplinary specificity. 

Sudden Rise is also iterative in the sense that the script is derived from a collection of textual fragments from Sudden Rise at a Given Tune, collaboratively written by and with the poet and writer Fred Moten. The script’s structure is framed by an interweaving of the collective’s work with the words and actions of those who have come before, such as civil rights activists, poets, essayists, and social historians of the 20th century Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and W.E.B Du Bois. In the same breath are fragments of Jimi Hendrix’ lyrics, Hannah Arendt’s musings, and Oskar Becker’s “mantic” (between mathematics and philosophy) phenomenology. 

Collectively assembled as a collage of words, filmic images, movements and sounds, the performance is not only an Exquisite Corpse (the Surrealist chance-based game of consequences) but rather builds its form through the deliberate and historically grounded undisciplining of ideas, knowledge, and experience. The performance also references “phantasmagoria,” an 18th century form of horror theater that used proto-projections and scrims as if a collective of non-beings are performing with those on stage, to echo stories of trauma and resistance across, through, and out of time. 

—Vic Brooks, Curator 

Sudden Rise by Moved by the Motion, 2018. (2018) by Curated by Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes CruzEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The narrative structure of Sudden Rise is influenced by Shakespearean tragedy and alludes to the dramaturgical specificity that the proscenium stage implies. At the same time, it works against these conditions, committed to an improvisatory and epistolary process as each artist interprets their own role in relation to each other. boychild and Josh Johnson perform an endless duet in multiplication with each other and themselves as pre-recorded images, reimagining the early days of cinema when projections shared the stage with theatrical performers. The classical tradition that resonates from Patrick Belaga’s cello intertwines with the electronic repetition of Tsang and boychild’s voices looped and repeated by Asma Maroof, and the chiaroscuro lighting of baroque portraiture is diffused against digital architectures, spatial grids, and test patterns that continually reform the time and perspective on stage.  

Sudden Rise stages trauma as not only tragedy but also as a site of remaking through the unending and entangled formations of Blackness and queerness. Through direct contact between performers, words, and music, Sudden Rise makes visible how this spatial, oral, and haptic communication takes form. It visualizes how gestures, languages, and techniques are inherited and reproduced, and it imagines a new dimension in which deep historical memory and contemporary bodies are entwined and processed on stage. 

Vic Brooks, Curator

Script / Wu Tsang and Fred Moten
Choreography / boychild and Josh Johnson
Music / Patrick Belaga and Asma Maroof
Lighting Design / Alena Samoray
Cinematographer / Antonio Cisneros
1st Assistant Camera / Curran Banach
Editors / Wu Tsang and Antony Valdez
Costumes / Dumitrascu
Hair / Sara Mathiasson

Curators / Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes Cruz

Special thanks to Thibault Lac, Jeff Simmons, Fred Moten, and Laura Harris.

Commissioned and produced by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic institute.

Sudden Rise by Moved by the Motion, 2018. (2018) by Curated by Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes CruzEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Sudden Rise by Moved by the Motion, 2018., Curated by Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes Cruz, Photo: Paula Court / EMPAC, 2018, From the collection of: EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Sudden Rise by Moved by the Motion, 2018., Curated by Vic Brooks and Constanza Armes Cruz, Photo: Mick Bello / EMPAC, 2018, From the collection of: EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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SlowMeDown / Maria Hassabi, Curated by Ashley Ferro-Murray, Photo by Paula Court, 2018, From the collection of: EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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SlowMeDown / Maria Hassabi (2018) by Curated by Ashley Ferro-MurrayEMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Maria Hassabi, SlowMeDown

Stillness and slowness are at the center of artist and choreographer Maria Hassabi’s practice. As she explained in an interview for the Walker Art Center, early in her career Hassabi had an impulse for live performances to stop so that she could look at them. Since then, Hassabi’s choreography features extremely, sometimes imperceptibly, slow moving dancers. In this work, she has not stopped the live performance, per se, but instead slowed it down such that we can all consider it in form and detail. This choreography first consists of an encounter with a seemingly still dancer or group of dancers. It becomes clear over time that these dancers slowly move their bodies very precisely from one position to another. As the choreography progresses, a complexity of formations emerge with bodies moving together to create shapes and moving apart to reveal empty space. 

In 2016/17, Hassabi created a performative diptych titled STAGED? and STAGING, which shared an aesthetic, similar costumes, sound scores and movement material, yet were arranged in different structures to fit the context of their presentations. Both of these works also shared a now-iconic set: a large expanse of pink carpet. STAGED? is set in a traditional black box theater space. The audience sits in risers on the carpet surrounding the performers who move in the center of the space with concentrated theatrical lighting above them. This work has a beginning and an end. At a certain point the doors to the theater close to signal the start of the performance and at the end the doors open and the audience leaves together. The live installation, STAGING, on the other hand, was created for exhibition spaces. Performers move in places that the public navigates more freely than they would from a static seat in a traditional performance space. Here, the encounter with Hassabi’s dancers is more surprising. The audience wonders: is this a statue, is the person lying on the floor in need, or, is this in fact a piece of live performance? Together, STAGED? and STAGING highlight the distinction between performance in a theatrical space and performance in an exhibition space. 

It is somehow fitting, then, that Hassabi expresses interest in another time-based art: moving image. SlowMeDown is Hassabi’s second moving-image installation and is designed for exhibition spaces. Working with video editing technologies and the live documentation of STAGING, Hassabi has the capacity to zoom in and accentuate her choreographic interests more precisely than was possible in a live performance setting. Editing a moving image has enabled her to elongate stillness beyond the physical capacity of her dancers and for formal elements like color to be abstracted and exaggerated with the addition of post-production elements including collage and animation. 

Spatially, Hassabi’s installation continues her exploration of the self-reflexive encounter with unexpectedly still or slowly dancing body in a museum. This time, however, the audience follows the expanse of pink carpet from the physical space of Studio 2 into the mediated space of the screen that stands in its center, where Hassabi’s footage of the carpet and choreography extends back into the physical reality where her viewers sit and watch. 

Hassabi thinks of SlowMeDown as a hyperreal frame for her work. This Baudrillardian push feels not like an extension of her previous work, where the slowed-down dancer brought an uncanny focus to the performative frame, but instead like a new study into the mechanics of reproducibility.

Ashley Ferro-Murray, Curator

Sound Composition / Marina Rosenfeld
Sound Design / Stavros Gasparatos
Editors / Kate Abernathy, Alex Czetwertynski, George Charisis, and Angelos Mantzios

Performers
Jessie Gold, Hristoula Harakas, Maria Hassabi, Mickey Mahar, Paige Martin, and Oisín Monaghan

Curator / Ashley Ferro-Murray

Filmed at Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Documenta14 (Kassel), Aarhus 2017 (Aarhus), Evergreen/ Don River Valey Park (Toronto), and EMPAC at Rensselaer.

SlowMeDown (2018) by Maria Hassabi was commissioned by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with additional co-production support provided by Point Center for Contemporary Art, Nicosia.

Wave Field Synthesis / 3D Audio Installation (2018) by Development and Design by EMPAC: Johannes Goebel, Todd Vos, Jeff Svatek, Argeo Ascani, and Eric Ameres. In collaboration with Markus Noisternig / IRCAM, Paris.EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Exploring 3D Audio, The EMPAC Wave Field Synthesis Array

Throughout the 10YEARS Celebration, guests were invited to explore an audio installation one can only experience at EMPAC. EMPAC’s Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) loudspeaker array is the only such system in the USA, and we are not aware that any system of this quality exists anywhere else in the world. Using an interactive touchscreen, the installation allows visitors to step through a sequence of listening demonstrations, featuring recordings of classical music by Mozart and a Tango with three guitars and a singer, that will immerse you into a new world of sound.

Creating spatialized audio, the experience of music or other sonic events happening in front of and around us, has been an endeavor for engineers since the advent of stereo (with two speakers) and surround sound (with four, five, or many more loudspeakers). This interest started in 1881 with the first two-channel transmission over telephone lines, and many different technologies improving upon the effect have been created up to the present day. Some might remember the stereo record, or even a vinyl record capable of reproducing four channels of audio. A similar effect was possible with tape recorders that played multiple tracks out through individual loudspeakers.

Composers in the 1950s started to produce pieces for more than two loudspeakers and have since composed many pieces using any combination and number of loudspeakers distributed in space. In 1958 the architect Le Corbusier and the composer Edgar Varese created the Phillips Pavilion for the World Expo in Brussels, an extraordinary building in which more than 400 loudspeakers projected Varese’s Poème électronique through space. At the end of the 1960s, the American composer John Chowning developed the first computer program at Stanford University to simulate moving sound sources with four loudspeakers on the first online computer music system.

Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) has a very different approach and result. First theorized by acousticians in the 1980s, WFS differs from other systems in that the sound source will stay put in its location independent of where the listener is positioned. In stereo or surround sound, there is a “sweet spot” where the sounds are perceived in balance. But once one moves around or sits closer to one speaker, the listening experience shifts like a lopsided ship to the speakers one sits closest to. There have been several WFS systems constructed and research has been conducted continuously over the course of the years. But artists were never really convinced of the effect that the theory promised. 

EMPAC’s high-density modular WFS system was designed and constructed in 2016 and is one of the most extensive systems of its kind. Consisting of 18 modules, each with 31 small loudspeakers situated very closely together and producing its own signal, the system can be used in a range of applications, from concert and theatrical settings to the simulation of acoustical environments for research purposes. With this platform, EMPAC has demonstrated the full power of WFS and is one of the very few studios in the world actively developing new creative work for WFS. 

In this installation, we used recorded classical music to demonstrate the system’s unique effect. However, we are more interested in using its capabilities for the production of new acoustic-musical works, which could not be realized otherwise. Furthermore, the system will be used for research in the areas of immersive environments and telepresence. The EMPAC curatorial program is currently commissioning artists and composers to explore this potential. 

Compositions

Emma Milan / A mis dos Homeros – poetas del tango (2003)
Recorded at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris

W.A. Mozart / String Quartet No.3 in G major (1772)
performed by L. Zelnick, B. Quiggins, S. Taylor, C. Drane
Recorded at EMPAC

W.A. Mozart / Serenade in E-flat major (1781)
performed by members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Recorded at EMPAC

Development and Design by EMPAC: Johannes Goebel, Todd Vos, Jeff Svatek, Argeo Ascani, and Eric Ameres. In collaboration with Markus Noisternig / IRCAM, Paris.

Wave Field Synthesis / 3D Audio Installation (2018) by Development and Design by EMPAC: Johannes Goebel, Todd Vos, Jeff Svatek, Argeo Ascani, and Eric Ameres. In collaboration with Markus Noisternig / IRCAM, Paris.EMPAC — The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

10YEARS was produced by EMPAC staff


Geoff Abbas / Director for Stage Technologies
Eric Ameres / Senior Research Engineer
Constanza Armes Cruz / Curatorial Assistant
Argeo Ascani / Curator, Music
Eileen Bellamy / Graphic Designer
David Bebb / Senior Network Administrator
Peter Bellamy / Senior Systems Administrator
Michael Bello / Video Engineer
Vic Brooks / Curator, Time-Based Visual Art
Eric Brucker / Lead Video Engineer
Bruce Bryne / Master Carpenter
Michele Cassaro / Guest Services Coordinator
Gordon Clement / Media Systems Integrator
John Cook / Box Office Manager
David DeLaRosa / Desktop Support Analyst
Zhenelle Fish / Artist Services Administrator
Ashley Ferro-Murray / Associate Curator, Theater & Dance
Kimberly Gardner / Manager, Administrative Operations
Johannes Goebel / Director
Sara Griffith / Production Technician
Ian Hamelin / Project Manager
Michael Hanrahan / Senior Event Technician
Ryan Jenkins / Video Engineer
Shannon Johnson / Web Manager
Michael Lake / Production Technician
Robin Massey / Senior Business Administrator
Stephen McLaughlin / Audio Engineer
Daniel Meltzer / Master Electrician
Josh Potter / Marketing and Communications Manager
Sharineka Phillips / Business Coordinator
Avery Stempel / Front of House Manager
Kim Strosahl / Production Coordinator
Jeffrey Svatek / Audio Engineer
Michael Valiquette / Interim Graphic Designer
Todd Vos / Lead Audio Engineer

Credits: Story

Johannes Goebel
Curatorial Team

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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